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Emergency Services in Norway

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All about the emergency services in Norway. What each one does, and how to contact them.

We all hope we never need it. But one day, you may just need urgent assistance in Norway.

Sea King search and rescue helicopter in Norway
Sea King helicopter used for search and rescue in Norway. Photo: Hovedredningssentralen

Whether you live in the country or are just visiting, it's important to know the procedure for contacting emergency services in Norway. Here's what you need to know.

Responsibility for emergency response in Norway

The Ministry of Justice and Public Security (Justis- og beredskapsdepartementet) is responsible for the preservation and development of basic guarantees of the rule of law. Norway's Minister of Justice oversees the Police, which is run by the National Police Directorate.

The Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB) reports to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security. Among DSB's responsibilities include local, regional and national preparedness, emergency planning and fire safety. They are also responsible for Nødnett, an emergency radio network built specifically for rescue and emergency users.

Norway's health service is overseen by the Ministry of Health and Care Services and executed by the Norwegian Directorate of Health. Health services are delivered through four regional health authorities, which in turn manage a series of hospital trusts.

Now, let's look in turn at each of the services, starting with the most important information:

Emergency services in Norway: how to contact the fire service, police and ambulance.

The Norwegian Police force

In an emergency, you can contact the police in Norway by calling 112. For all non-emergency queries, contact the police central switchboard on 02800.

The emergency number should be used to report criminal offences where there is a danger to life. It should also be used if there is a risk of evidence being destroyed.

Read more: Crime in Norway

The Norwegian Police is divided into 12 districts, each with its own operation centre to manage and coordinate the police force in the district. The operation centres controls the mission handling and communicates with citizens via the 112 number.

Norwegian police officers at work
Norwegian police at work in Oslo. Photo: Oslo Police

Norway's Police force is also the contact point for search and rescue situations. Depending on the location, local police may have the use of police boats in addition to land vehicles.

The Norwegian fire service

In an emergency, you can contact the fire service in Norway by calling 110. Your call will be routed to the closest of 22 operation centres.

Municipalities are responsible for fire preparedness in Norway. At present, over 300 fire departments with around 12,500 firefighters provide fire services for the Norwegian population.

However, only approximately 3,500 of these are full-time professional firefighters. The rest are part-time or volunteer firefighters.

Ambulance and urgent healthcare in Norway

In an emergency, you can call for an ambulance and/or urgent healthcare support by calling 113. This is for life-threatening situations only.

A new Norwegian ambulance in the south of Norway
An ambulance in southern Norway. Photo: VBK Nordic

This includes: Onset of facial or arm paralysis, onset of language disorders such as slurred speech, sudden or unexplained loss of balance, unconsciousness or reduced consciousness, chest pains lasting more than five minutes, when taking the heart medicine nitroglycerine has less effect than usual, unexpected discomfort in the chest area, and general malaise and nausea.

For other health situations that are not life threatening conditions, you should in the first instance contact your GP. They will assist the situation and advise on next steps.

If your GP is closed and you cannot wait until it is open, you can call the national out-of-hours urgent care number 116 117. This will route your call to the local legevakt, or urgent care centre.

Issues that the urgent care centre can help with include: high fever (particularly in children), moderate breathing difficulties, acute illness or serious deterioration, unresponsive or exhausted children or adults, serious mental illness, suspected pregnancy complications, injuries requiring stitches, and suspected fractures.

Norwegian air ambulance

As a country with vast coastline and mountain ranges, Norway needs an air ambulance service. In fact, the service supports up to 20,000 patients every year.

Air ambulance helicopters in Førde, Norway.
Air ambulance helicopters in Førde, Norway. Photo: Per Marifjæren, Helse Førde HF

Dedicated planes are available at seven airports, while there are 14 helicopters on standby across the country, usually at hospitals. The service also depends on six of the state's search and rescue helicopters to offer full national coverage.

Norwegian search and rescue service

Norway is a long, narrow country extending far above the Arctic circle. It has a harsh climate and unforgiving waters, which present major challenges for search and rescue.

As such, rescue services in Norway and Norwegian waters are carried out through a cooperation between government agencies, voluntary organisations and private companies. This was seen in action during the Gjerdrum landslide in December 2020.

Operations are coordinated either directly from one of the two Joint Rescue Coordination Centres (JRCC) in Bodø and Sola, Stavanger, or through one of 28 regional centres.

A mountain rescue training exercise in the Norwegian mountains.
Mountain rescue training exercise. Photo: Hovedredningssentralen

Among the resources available include six Sea King search and rescue helicopters. These are available 24/7 and are coordinated by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centres in Bodø and Sola, Stavanger.

The service is ultimately under the control of the Minister of Justice and Police. This means citizens should call the Police on 112 in situations where search and rescue may be required, including missing person cases.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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